Views of graduates on the HE curriculum
Interested to seek the views of graduates on their degree programmes, from the perspective of employment, the HE Mathematics Curriculum Summit (Rowlett, P., ed, 2011, HE Mathematics Curriculum Summit. MSOR Network) made a recommendation: Research to collect the feedback of graduates in employment on the mathematics HE curriculum. This project will address this recommendation.
This project seeks to understand graduates’ perspectives on the undergraduate mathematics curriculum.
Specific foci will be on understanding:
i. the mathematics that graduates use in their day-to-day work;
ii. graduates’ perceptions of generic skills developed by studying undergraduate mathematics;
iii. specific components of the undergraduate mathematics curriculum which graduates believed helped develop these skills;
iv. specific skills which were not developed during degree courses which participants believe could and should be;
v. how, and how well, graduates believe their curriculum was delivered and whether with hindsight different delivery mechanisms may have left them better prepared for the workplace.
In order to ensure that our findings are broadly comparable with those of the equivalent HEA Chemistry and Physics projects, we will follow a similar methodology. The instrument will be designed so that it renders findings that are comparable with
(a) the HEA Chemistry and Physics project;
(b) the MoreMathsGrads survey of incoming MSOR undergraduates (Challis et al., 2009); and
(c) Inglis’s survey of academic mathematicians conducted as part of his Royal Society Fellowship.
A report which documents graduates’ perceptions of the types of skills they need for the workplace, and the extent to which they believe that studying mathematics developed these skills. This report (and the anonymised data upon which it is based) will be made freely available to the academic community from the MEC website (and, if appropriate, the MSOR Network or HE STEM websites).
This work will contribute to ensuring that the higher education mathematics community keeps pace with developments in the workplace. It will provide evidence about the experiences that graduates perceive as useful, and therefore allow higher education institutes to review their own academic provision to ensure that students are provided with skills that will maximise their employability. Given the post-Browne political situation, engaging with employability issues is becoming critically important for universities, so we anticipate that the sector will gain widespread benefit from this work. The community will benefit from resources which address a need identified by the HE Mathematics Curriculum Summit.
As well as these direct outcomes, the project will also directly inform a longitudinal project that the Royal Society has commissioned to better understand the cognitive benefits of studying advanced mathematics (http://mec.lboro.ac.uk/mcg/rs/). This is a five-year project which, it is intended, will provide a robust evidence-base to inform future educational policy initiatives. It is the intention of the Royal Society’s Education Committee to assist with publicising the findings of this larger project to policy-makers, practitioners, and the media (see http://royalsociety.org/Education-Policy/).